A descendant of Russia’s former royal family held the first royal wedding to his Italian bride on Friday, the first royal wedding to take place on Russian soil more than a century ago.
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov tied the knot with an Italian Victoria Romanovna Bettarini at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia’s former imperial capital.
Russian Orthodox clergy held elaborate ceremonies, which were witnessed by hundreds of guests, including the groom’s mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia – the self-proclaimed heir to Russia’s imperial throne – and more than a dozen minor European royals.
George Mikhailovich’s great-grandfather, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, fled Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, first fleeing to Finland and later relocating with his family to Western Europe.
Russia’s last King Nicholas II, his wife and five children were murdered in the basement of a merchant’s house in Yekaterinburg, a city 1,450 km (900 mi) east of Moscow, in July 1918 by a revolutionary firing squad.
George Mikhailovich, 40, was born in Madrid and has spent most of his life in Spain and France.
Bettarini, 39, who converted to the Russian Orthodox faith last year and took the name Victoria Romanovna, was carried to the altar by his father, Roberto Bettarini, who has served in the Italian diplomatic service.
George Mikhailovich visited Russia for the first time in 1992 and moved to Moscow in 2019, where he worked on several charity projects.
The Romanov dynasty ruled Russia for more than 300 years before the abdication of Nicholas II in early 1917, setting the country up for the Bolshevik Revolution in November of that year, civil war and 70 years of communist rule.
In 2000 Russia’s Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas II, who was portrayed by Soviet authorities as a weak leader.
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